Halloween Month: Top 5 Wes Craven Films to watch this Spooky Season!

The loss of one of genre cinema’s greatest directors is still very raw amongst fans. So, if you’re planning on a movie marathon this Halloween season then what better way to celebrate than pay homage to the beloved Wes Craven, the ultimate master of our nightmares! Here are my personal (and of course subjective) top picks of Craven films  to enjoy this October. So sit back, relax with some sugary treats and don’t forget to Scream!

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**CONTAINS SPOILERS**

5. Red Eye (2005)

Red Eye is Craven’s strongest genre film from the noughties and one of his more underrated in his overall career. Its Final Destination meets Scream in a calculating thriller about a hotel manager Lisa (Rachel McAdams) who is terrorized on a routine flight by a sinister stranger (Cillian Murphy) linked to a menacing and dangerous plot to assassinate a politician. With the threat of her father being killed dangling in front of her, Lisa is trapped yet surrounded by people. She is threatened and unable to say a word, otherwise she risks everything. Red Eye is well executed, slowly introducing the main characters, keeping Murphy’s Jackson Rippner charming and charismatic before revealing his nasty intentions. Its edge of your seat stuff, as the conspiracy unfolds. The primary setting of the plane ramps up the tension signifying the notion of no escape. Lisa has to be careful of every move she makes. She is reminiscent of Sidney Prescott with her resourcefulness and mannerisms; allegedly the role was considered for Neve Campbell at one stage and it does feel as if it was written for her, Rachel McAdams however delivers a powerhouse performance. Its a cat and mouse game with intense direction from Craven. Catch Red Eye on Netflix.

4. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

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This bleak homage to Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) was Craven’s second feature film. Following his controversial début The Last House on the Left (1972), Craven continued with a similar gritty tone as a family become stranded in the desolate Nevada desert only to be brutalized by a group of cannibals. The Hills Have Eyes is exploitation at its finest and an example of Craven’s earlier and more seedier work before his more polished offerings years later. Adding to the grubbiness was the fact that Craven rented the camera to shoot the movie from a well-known pornographer. He had a lot of dark ideas when creating The Hills Have Eyes, including toying with the idea of killing off a baby but instead settled with the dog death which is harrowing enough for any animal lover! The film kick started a career in Horror for Dee Wallace (most famous for playing Elliot’s mother in ET) before going on to roles in 80’s flicks Cujo (1983) and The Howling (1981). Michael Berryman’s hillbilly villain named Pluto is one of the most iconic monsters and is instantly recognizable as a significant horror character. On the whole the film is extremely disturbing and doesn’t hold back on the malice, the burning scene being one of its most harrowing. The Hills Have Eyes legacy lives on through inspiring a number of inbred themed films, the Wrong Turn franchise being the most well-known. It received the remake treatment in 2006 which was actually pretty well-executed. One of the most interesting and violent films of Craven’s earlier career, The Hills Have Eyes is worth watching this Halloween if you’re looking for something macabre and brutal.

3. Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

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The only film in this countdown that Craven didn’t actually direct but he did contribute towards the screenplay. Every horror fan knows that Dream Warriors is the most well-regarded Elm Street Sequel as it went back to the origins of both Freddy and Nancy’s story arcs. It was one of the first horror films I recall really getting into at a young age. Set in a hospital, our heroine Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkampis now a psychiatrist helping teenage survivors of Freddy Kruger fight back using their dreams against him. The teens include Kristen Parker (played by Patricia Arquette this time round) who became a significant part of the franchise in her own right. Chocked full of mesmerizing imagery (gory puppetry scene) and containing many memorable death scenes (“Prime Time, Bitch!” being an exceptional highlight). Dream Warriors was a major improvement on the second instalment Freddy’s Revenge (1985), guaranteeing Kruger as a relevant horror villain for years to come. The original idea Craven had intended for the film was what eventually became 1994’s New Nightmare which was completely ahead of its time and a prelude to Scream (1996). If you’re going to watch an Elm Street sequel this Halloween, make sure its this one!

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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The movie that guaranteed that we’d never sleep again. A Nightmare on Elm Street completely speaks for itself and was the film that put Craven on the map to success. This imaginative and terrifying concept has frightened generations for years to come. It’s the movie that Johnny Depp owes his entire career to and also made an icon out of Robert Englund. If you want a classic movie this year, Nightmare on Elm Street is the one to go for. Also, there’s a chance to see it on the big screen at Celluloid Screams Horror Festival’s All-Nighter, in honour of the master of nightmares!

1.Scream 2 (1997)

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Scream 2  is one of the strongest slasher sequels out there if not the best. Slicing its way onto cinema screens a year after Craven’s 1996 post-modern masterpiece, Scream 2 delivered more chills, more blood and more scares as it continued the Sidney Prescott story to university. Our beloved characters were brought back including Courtney Cox’s feisty news reporter (now author!) Gale Weathers and movie buff Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy). Scream 2 took risks (killing off Sarah Michelle Gellar in her second film written by Kevin Williamson) and some unsuspecting turns as it taught us no one is safe! It also provides a witty commentary on sequels, the status of race in horror as well as reverted to the classic tale of revenge paying homage to Friday the 13th (1980). Scream 2 upped the ante making it the most compelling sequel out of the franchise. For me, its incredibly nostalgic. If you’re ready to Scream this Halloween, this is the sequel for you! After Craven’s distaste for his nightmarish creation Elm Street being transformed into a franchise, he truly proved here that this is how a follow-up to a successful film should really be done!

Read my Ghostface Girls Debate Article on which is the best Scream sequelhttp://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/01/27/ghostface-girls-debate-which-is-the-best-scream-sequel-2629914?lt_source=external,manual

Which Wes Craven films do you plan on watching this Halloween season, what would be your top picks? Feel free to comment below! Or Tweet @HayleyR1989

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

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2 Responses to “Halloween Month: Top 5 Wes Craven Films to watch this Spooky Season!”

  1. Good list! I will re-visit “The Hills Have Eyes” and “Nightmare on Elm Street 3” this Halloween season, as it has been a long time since I’ve watched either one. Of course, you can’t go wrong watching the first “Nightmare on Elm St.” during any Halloween season, or any time at all, for that matter.

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